No untoward incident took place at CM’s residence, CB office: Key witnesses

Haji Yousaf death case

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, June 3: In a significant development in the National Conference worker Syed Mohammad Yousaf Shah alias Haji Yousaf death case, both the key witnesses today told Justice H S Bedi Commission that no untoward incident took place either at the residence of Chief Minister or Crime Branch Office.
Sources told EXCELSIOR that Justice H S Bedi Commission probing the case of alleged custodial death of National Conference worker Haji Yousaf today recorded the statements of both the key witnesses—Abdul Salaam Reshi and Mohammad Yousaf Bhat and they were cross-examined by the counsel for the family of the deceased.
“Both the key witnesses told the Commission that they stood by the statements made before the Police, Executive Magistrate under Section 164-A and in the affidavits submitted to the one-may Enquiry Commission”, sources informed, adding “they told the Commission that no harassment of any sort was meted out to Haji Yousaf at the residence of Chief Minister, in the police gypsy and in the Crime Branch office”.
“Even nobody misbehaved with him either at Chief Minister’s office or in the Crime Branch office”, they further said.
When asked about his statement made to the media about the circumstances leading to Haji Yousaf’s death, Abdul Salaam Reshi told the Commission, “no doubt I talked to media after the death of Haji Yousaf but I don’t know what I told them as I was in disturbed state of mind at that moment”, adding “I only stand by the statement which I recorded before the Police, Magistrate and in the affidavits submitted to the Commission”.
“The statements of Abdul Salam Reshi and Mohammad Yousaf Bhat assume significance as they were the only witnesses to the entire episode right from the entry of Haji Yousaf to the residence of Chief Minister to his transition to the Crime Branch office”, sources said while disclosing that besides these two key witnesses, only Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Minister of State for Home, Nasir Aslam Wani were present when Haji Yousaf was summoned to ascertain whether he was taking money from the people on the pretext of getting them Ministerial berths. Political Advisor to the Chief Minister, Devinder Singh Rana and then Inspector General of Crime Branch Raja Aijaz Ali reached Omar Abdullah’s residence at the later stage.
In response to a question, sources said, “now the Commission will examine policemen and those from the medical fraternity who were associated with the post-mortem of Haji Yousaf, on next date of hearing on June 21”, adding “post-mortem report and a magisterial inquiry have already ruled out any foul play in Yousaf’s death and concluded that he died of heart attack”.
The Commission has already disallowed the examination and cross-examination of Chief Minister, Minister of State for Home and Political Advisor to Chief Minister.
It is worthwhile to mention here that Haji Yousaf was handed over to IG Crime Branch by the Chief Minister on September 29 last year after he (Haji Yousaf) allegedly admitted to having taken money from two NC workers for getting them favours from the Government.
Following his death, Chief Minister ordered a judicial probe by a sitting J&K High Court Judge. However, after the then Chief Justice of State High Court expressed his inability to spare a sitting judge, the Government wrote to the Union Law Ministry to provide panel of three retired Supreme Court Judges.
Accordingly, the Union Law Ministry proposed the name of Justice H S Bedi, a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, and subsequently a Commission of Enquiry was appointed by the State Government in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 3 of Jammu and Kashmir Commission of Enquiry Act, 1962, to enquire into the causes and circumstances leading to the death of Haji Yousaf.